Are you tired of searching and comparing Kodi TV Boxes at no end? Reading all the specs and features without being really sure what’s what? Let’s take a look and answer a few questions first.
Table of Contents - Article Hierarchy
- So What is Android TV Kodi Box?
- Editor’s Choice – Amazon Fire
- 2019 Nvidia Shield TV 4K
- What Is Kodi And What Does It Do?
- Runner Up – Beelink GT1
- How Hard Is It To Install Kodi?
- Is Kodi legal?
- So What Are The Best Android TV Streaming Boxes for KODI?
- 1. Nvidia Shield TV 4K – The Best Streaming TV Box For Kodi
- 2. Amazon Fire TV Stick – The Best Smart TV Stick
- 3. Xiaomi Mi Box 3 – The Best Chinese Solution
- 4. Beelink GT1 – The Most Powerful Hardware
- 5. EvanPo T95Z Plus
- 6. Linster (EstGo, MBox) H96 Pro
- 7. M8S II – The Best Budget Android TV Box
- 8. Minix Neo U9-H
- 9. Amazon Fire TV – Best For 4K Streaming
- 10. Nvidia Shield TV Pro Server – 500Gb
- Final Words And The Winner – Nvidia Shield
So What is Android TV Kodi Box?
An Kodi TV box is a smart device running Android as operating system. Yes, just like a phone, but it is not mobile and it connects to your TV, usually via the HDMI port. These “Kodi boxes” come with tons of software for streaming, movie watching and more. The fact that they run Android makes them compatible with most apps from the Google Play store, including your favourite games. Most of them have 1 or more USB ports where you can connect an external hard drive, USB flash drives, gaming controllers and more.
What Is Kodi And What Does It Do?
In a few words, Kodi is a movie and videos streaming app. If you are an entertainment enthusiast and like to watch lots of movies, TV shows, and sports in your free time, then Kodi is an excellent choice. Kodi was originally developed for Microsoft Xbox consoles but then it was ported for most popular operating systems. It is a free, open-source platform that allows you to stream locally stored movies, music, and other media. It is designed with a central entertaining console in mind – it wants to be the center of attention and cover most, if not all, living room entertainment needs. You can stream movies and shows from your laptop or desktop computer, over a wireless or wired network, from your tablet or phone, and, last, but not least, from the Internet.
Here are the most important specs an Android TV box should have:
- Fast Processor – At least a quad-core with sufficient processing power.
- Enough RAM. Plenty of memory is crucial for good Android performance. 1 Gb RAM is the bare minimum today with 2Gb or more recommended.
- Storage. 16Gb or more are a must
- SD or TF card slot. Just in case you want to extend the app storage capabilities.
- USB ports – you will need at least one USB port in order to connect external hard drives, gaming controllers and more.
- Fast WiFi. Dual Band WiFi is important, AC speeds preferable
- HDMI 2.0 if you want 4K content. Older HDMI ports can not support 4K at 60Hz.
How Hard Is It To Install Kodi?
Overall, it is not hard to install at all!
Reading some of the “loaded” Kodi box sellers you might be left with the impression that Kodi is really hard to install software that needs a “specialist” in order to be done correctly. This couldn’t be further away from the truth as Kodi can be legally installed and downloaded from Google Play. Once you install it and configure it properly you are good to go. Just connect the box to your TV and enjoy the show. Streams and add-ons can be found on the Kodi website along with all kinds of goodies – remote control for your phone, audio streaming services and much more.
Is Kodi legal?
That depends on where you live and your local laws. I’m not going to talk much about the legality of Kodi but I’ll say this:
Kodi, as an app, is perfectly legal to use.
It is a free app that can be used as an entertainment enhancement of non-smart and smart TVs alike. What makes it illegal in some people’s eyes are some of the stream available exclusively for Kodi. These streams are what makes people think that Kodi is illegal. I’m not going to discuss whether you should use or install these streams and add-ons to your Kodi device – that’s completely up to you.
Fortunately, Kodi is compatible with almost every kind of device that you can think of. Regardless of the operating system, the Kodi software can be easily installed on a variety of platforms like Linux, Android, Windows, Raspberry Pi and more. Once you have installed Kodi on your device, it will soon turn into a video and online video streaming hub. However, if you are an iOS (iPhone/iPad) user, you may face some difficulties in installing the software on your iOS-based device. iOS devices need to be jailbroken for installation of Kodi.
The user interface of Kodi is simply stunning. This has been made possible due to the of the efforts of more than a hundred software developers and translators who have shaped the Kodi software for the past decade. Since Kodi is a free and open source platform, unlike some of the most popular platforms, users are free to load it with all the add-ons that can find. You don’t need to buy any licenses for those add-ons and some of them are very useful. Some of them are forbidden in certain countries and ISPs try to proactively block them around the world.
Why is that?
Most because Kodi allows you to stream paid content like sports, newly released movies, DVD sets and popular television shows. These streams are illegal in countries like USA, UK, Germany and more. In most cases, you can get away with it but there are reports of people prosecuted and what not. It is mostly true for people selling “loaded” Kodi boxes but you have to keep that in mind when making a choice.
With the growing popularity of Android as an operating system, it is no wonder the popularity of TV boxes running the open source OS. As I mentioned above, Android lets you access the Google Play app market and download a plethora of free and paid apps to satisfy
So What Are The Best Android TV Streaming Boxes for KODI?
These devices are the most affordable, reliable and proven Android boxes that can run Kodi flawlessly. Proven performers and they are all sold on Amazon, so there are no dodgy Chinese sites to order from and wonder whether you’ll get hit by import taxes, duty and even VAT in some countries. Yes, some of them are by Chinese manufacturers but they offer great value for money, reliable hardware and well-written software. All of them have enough RAM, storage and wireless connection in order to run Kodi without any hiccups
Let’s take a look at our recommended Android TV Kodi boxes list:
1. Nvidia Shield TV 4K – The Best Streaming TV Box For Kodi
I don’t really think that the NVidia Shield TV needs any serious introduction. It has been on the market for quite a while now and despite the dropping sales, it has been updated again in 2017.
The new version is not that different from the old on – it still features the same hardware configuration and capabilities as the old one with a few twists. It still the same old Tegra X1 all-in-one chip which despite its respectable age still performs admirably.
The new version has been updated to feature proper 4K support at 60 Hertz refresh rate, high definition audio over HDMI, new controller and more.
Is it worth upgrading if you have the old one?
Not by a long shot. Still the same hardware with just a different configuration and software. If you’re savvy enough you can update the first generation to Android Nougat with a custom ROM and have a free upgrade. Buying today, though, is a different matter – I would much prefer the new version over the old one. It just has a bit more goodies compared to the old one. But enough of that, let’s take a look at the specs:
- Tegra X1 Processor (256 Cores CPU+GPU Unit)
- 3GB RAM
- 16GB Storage
- Dual-Band Wireless AC
- Gigabit LAN Port
- USB 3.0 Ports
The Shield TV is a device of great build and quality. It has a few very interesting features that might turn the scale to its favor after all, especially when compared to all the Chinese devices above.
First of all, it features native Android TV support as Google intended it to. You can find more information here.
Second – it hast native Google Cast support so there is no need to buy a separate Google Chromecast if you need one. you can stream straight from your Android phone or tablet and use it like a proper Chromecast. It is a very useful feature if you are used to the Google Cast ecosystem.
Third – it is available with Google assistant and voice control. You can connect your Shield to other smart devices such as smart thermostats, LED light bulbs, smart appliances and more. It is a very useful feature if you have or planning to have a smart home. Google voice search works beautifully and here is a video to illustrate it:
Fourth – it offers Geforce Now support. It is tricky as it isn’t the same as the GeForce Now service for Mac and PC. With the Mac and PC version, you are basically renting a cloud PC that you can stream games from on your home PC, one that can not natively run those games as it is not fast enough. You can choose any games that are available on Steam, Origin and more. The GeForce Now for Shield is a different story – you have a set choice of games for a monthly subscription. It cost $7.99 and around the same number in GBP and EUR. You have a tad over 100 games to choose from and you can enjoy them unlimited for a month with the subscription.
You have to have very fast broadband to take full advantage of that though. You need at least 100 Mbps for proper 4K playtime and at least 25-30 Mbps for 1080p streaming. It works mostly OK but it is not really flawless. When the connection is good the experience is good but if there are some interruptions or your router can’t keep up with the demands your gaming experience will suffer lag and stuttering. I think the service needs some polishing before offering adequate performance. It is OK for the price at best.
Kodi, on the other side, works flawlessly and without any issues.
It doesn’t come pre-installed as you can expect from any reputable maker. You’ll have to sideload Kodi yourself but ti shouldn’t be too hard to do. Streaming is good and the AC wireless is no slouch either. With our Asus RT-AC3200 router, we managed to get a tad over 210 Mbps downloads speed from our local NAS device. Not bad at all and it is one of the fastest AC adapters we tested for this review.
The Nvidia Shield is not cheap by any means. While it is a great streaming box, it handles native Android games beautifully and the overall performance is superb for such old hardware, the price is just a bit too high. It has only 16GB storage with no expansion options either.
2. Amazon Fire TV Stick – The Best Smart TV Stick
Here is another offering from Amazon – the company that revolutionized the way people shop online. You are used to expecting superb support, lighting-fast shipping times and even 2-hour delivery slots in certain regions. The Amazon version of an Android TV box – the Fire TV stick with Alexa is no different – is an excellent product now offering Alexa at no additional cost. With Alexa, you can check the weather today, tell “her” to play the next episode of your favorite show or control your smart devices at home. All you have to do is touch the Alexa button on the TV Stick remote control and you are good yo good. Amazing!
These are the most notable specs but as we compare it with the Fire TV box we can see that the Stick is lacking certain features. The most notable ones are the absence of LAN port, no storage extension via an SD or TF card and certainly no 4K.
- Quick Quad-Core processor for lag-free experience
- 1 GB of memory – enough for most applications and Kodi
- 1080p support – not the best choice for 4K TVs
- AC Wireless – for effortless streaming
- Bluetooth 4.1
Amazon Fire TV Versus Fire TV Stick?
Yes, the Fire TV Stick is lacking some features but you have to ask yourself do you need those and do you really want to shell out more money for the Fire TV box. While the LAN and the SD card slots are nice, they are not essential if you are running a wireless-only household and have no plans to load the stick with bloated apps. However, if you need to connect the Amazon Fire TV to a cabled NAS device or your wireless signal is weak and not enough for stutter-free streaming then the Fire TV might be the better device for you.
If you are not satisfied with the pre-installed apps on the Fire Stick you can always download more from the Amazon app store. As we mentioned with the Fire TV, the Amazon app store is proprietary and not everything is available from the Google Play store, but there are always some offers or promotions available for free and paid apps.
Although it might not be as powerful as the box, the Amazon TV Stick does not disappoint considering the price difference and the size gap. While the box has to be on a stand or a table next to your TV, the stick just plugs into an HDMI port and it is ready to use. If you have an available USB port on your TV you can use it to power the stick and avoid another cable running down the wall if your TV is mounted. That’s probably the main advantage of the stick – no visible cables around and under the TV. Everything is neatly tucked and hidden away.
The interface is the same as the box and very similar to basic Android, although a bit optimized and better looking. It comes with all the Amazon apps to enjoy Prime Video, Prime music and more. It doesn’t properly work yet with Amazon Echo and you can’t still use Echo to control the TV Stick but I expect it to happen sooner rather than later. It would be awesome to call Alexa from your couch to change the channel on the TV stick or switch to Netflix for the next episode of House of Cards.
Kodi installation is a breeze. It can be easily sideloaded and add-ons installed.
Yes, the updated version of the Amazon Fire Stick works with Kodi!
KODI playback is effortless thanks to the fast dual-band AC wireless connection and given you have a good router streaming should be a breeze.
Gaming is supported as well as the charging USB of the Firestick can be extended and connected to a USB hub with the help of a simple OTG extension cable. No modifications required and it works great out of the box. It is compatible with Amazon’s gaming controller so you can enjoy your favorite games with the stick. Don’t expect amazing performance but most popular titles should be playable out of the box.
Overall – an excellent choice for Kodi – great Amazon support, fast hardware, and cable-free TV stand. Recommended!
3. Xiaomi Mi Box 3 – The Best Chinese Solution
If you haven’t heard the brand “Xiaomi” you are missing out on a great range of very high-quality devices made by the Chinese company. They make very good, but affordable Android phones, smart watches, fitness trackers, Bluetooth speakers, earphones and much more at a very decent price. I personally like to call them the Apple of China. The Android TV box runs a custom version of Android 6.0 and unlike the Amazon devices, it has full access to the Google Play store. You can download games, shows, play Netflix and much more. If you have a Xiaomi phone you can control the box from your phone with full options available – sound, music and more. You can even take advantage of Android TV OS experience as the Mi Box is on the list of approved devices. You can experience TV just as Google designed it.
The wireless is top notch and if you have a fast AC router you will not miss the LAN port one bit. If you can’t get a signal to the TV box or if you insist having a cable connection that maybe the Xiaomi Mi Box is not the right device for you. 2.4 GHz band routers might not be fast enough for 4K streaming but if you have a decent 5GHz AC router you can take advantage of streaming speed of more than 200 Mbit per second – plenty of bandwidth for even the most demanding streams.
So let’s take a look at the Xiaomi’s Android box offering. It runs a proper MIUI version of Android that offers OTA updates, stable android builds and lots of proprietary features that are not available on other Android instalments. The hardware is capable as well and here are the most notable specifications:
- Fast Quad Core Processor
- 2Gb RAM
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dual Band AC Wireless
- 8Gb Storage
- 4K video at 60 Hz
- SPDIF output
It runs Kodi beautifully and it is a fully compatible Android TV Box.
You can sideload Kodi TV with easy and take advantage of all the programming and free entertainment. It may struggle with full resolution 4K content due to the absence of a LAN port. Although 200 Mbps is enough for most streams, 4K with high definition audio might fill up the bandwidth and leave no room for error. Any variations of the wireless signal will cause interruptions and buffering – not a nice experience.
Another disadvantage is the absence of an SD card slot. If you are planning to do lots of gaming on the device, download any media or software, the 8Gb storage are simply not enough. Even 16Gb are pushing it nowadays with the size of games like Need For Speed, Mortal Combat and more. Yes, these games are available on Android and the Mi Box can run them, just not all installed at the same time.
If you can live with the above the Xiaomi Mi is a solid buy for an affordable price if you can get it from places like AliExpress or GearBest. Yes, it takes a while to arrive in Europe or the US, but the savings are substantial if you manage to avoid the import taxes. Amazon is a solid place to buy, Prime gets you next day delivery but the price is higher. I’ll leave it up to you to decide!
The Beelink GT1 is a small and sleek Android TV box that does not occupy much space and looks beautiful sitting next to your television. The GT1 comes in three different versions – there are two different GT ones and an Ultimate version. The main difference between the three is the amount of RAM and storage they have. The first, less pricey version comes with 2Gb RAM and 16Gb storage. The second GT1 is configured again with 2GB RAM but it sports 32Gb storage. The third one carries an “Ultimate” badge – it is a bit different in build compared to the original GT1. The GT1 Ultimate comes with 3Gb RAM and 32Gb storage, but the memory is DDR4 compared to the older DDR3 configuration of the original GT1. To be honest, I seriously doubt anyone will notice the difference between the two types of memory, but you will most likely feel the difference of the larger memory – games will run more smoothly, there will be less tearing while streaming and multitasking on the device will be much less problematic. The more the better and there is no such thing as too much RAM…
Here are the more obvious specs of the Beelink GT1 Kodi Box:
- Octa-Core Processor
- 2Gb DDR3 for GT1, 3Gb DDR4 for the Ultimate
- 16Gb or 32Gb storage
- Dual Band AC Wireless
- Bluetooth 4.0
- SD Card support
- Gigabit LAN
As you can see the Beelink has it all – fast processor, enough RAM, LAN port and expansion card capability. It makes is a fast performer and a very good choice for a TV box. There were some reports of playback tearing and bad connection with some older firmware versions but it is all cleared now. Just make sure when you receive your unit that you flash or update it with the latest software available from Beelink’s website.
As is the case with the Xiaomi TV Box, the Beelink can be found cheaper than Amazon on Chinese sites like AliExpress and GearBest, but that doesn’t come with Amazon’s stellar return policy, fast shipping with Prime (where available) and local stock. That means you won’t have to wait weeks for the unit to be delivered and be hit with import charges and tax.
The build quality is very good for a Chinese unit and I have mine working for close to a year now on my bedroom TV. There were some issues with the wireless with some older firmware versions but now it is all smooth as butter.
Some units come with Kodi preinstalled but now Beelink changed that practice.
Some of the units ship with Android 6.0 and Kodi TV pre-installed along with some useful add-ons. Due to copyright issues and illegal content, the units that ship with Android 7.1 do not have that option – you’ll have to install Kodi on your own. It is not a big deal and you can easily download it from the app store.
If you are into modding there is an abundance of Beelink GT1 custom ROMs out there. But please, make sure you flash the correct version for the device you have otherwise you risk the chance of bricking the unit and void the one year warranty. There are three different versions of the Beelink box so please be careful about it.
Overall the GT1 TV Box is a fantastic high-specced device plagued by software issues in the past. New software versions are there to fix the issues but in case you receive a device with old firmware please try to update it before putting it to good use. Highly recommended.
5. EvanPo T95Z Plus
The Evanpo T95Z Plus is one of the most attractive offerings on the market due to its hexagonal shape and glowing LED lights. It also comes bundled in most cases with IR remote control and a wireless keyboard.
You might notice that the T95Z is available from all sorts of different manufacturers. It is basically the same device sold under different brands. On Amazon alone, there are more than a few versions of T95Z and the Chinese sites like GearBest it is listed under the name Sunvell.
It features the same specs of most Chinese units that are available. The Amlogic 912 is a solid performer and has proven itself as a fantastic budget processor that runs Android 6 or 7 flawlessly and has built-in hardware acceleration for video playback.
It features proper 4K video support with HDMI 2.0, the bare minimum for watching 4K content at 60 Hz refresh rate.
What does that mean?
It means that when watching any 4K content on a good TV set that the playback will be fluent with no tearing and interrupted motion.
There are two variations of the EvanPo – one with 2Gb RAM and 16Gb storage. The second one is a beefed-up version with 3GB RAM and 32GB storage which we think is a better value for money. Yes, it is a bot more but the 3GB can make a difference when playing games, multitasking and stream high-definition content.
Here are the general specifications of the T95Z:
- 2.0 GHz Octa-Core Processor
- 2 or 3 GB RAM
- 16 or 32 Gigabytes Storage
- Dual Band 802.11AC WiFi
- Gigabit LAN port
- SD Card Slot
- Optical Audio
- Bluetooth 4.0
As you can see, the T95Z has it all. Unlike the Xiomi above it has LAN and card expansion slot in case the storage runs short. The AC wireless can connect with speeds of up to 750Mbps but real life performance is much slower than that. Most tests that we ran with Speedtest managed to get close to the 200 Mbps but nothing more than that. Still, that is a very good speed for most TV boxes wireless.
The EvanPo usually comes bundled with a remote and a wireless keyboard. They are not the best in class by any means but it’s better to have them than not. The remote will hard work at all except when pointed straight at the device. The keyboard is temperamental at best, often losing connection and providing erratic input. It’s much better to use an app to control the box. They are not terrible, per se, but don’t expect reliable connection nor consistent input.
Kodi comes pre-installed on most T95Z devices.
It works flawlessly too – streaming from local devices is close to perfect. 4K content works perfectly if it paired with lesser bitrate audio. 4K video and high-def audio will not stream properly on wireless with the T95Z. You can always use the gigabit LAN though – no issues there whatsoever.
The Android version that comes with the box can be either 6.0 or 7.0 with the 7.0 firmware seems slightly more stable and better working than the older one. Kodi might not come preinstalled with the newer firmware so it is better to check with the seller before ordering.
As usual, you can find the T95Z on Chinese marketplaces like Gearbest and AliExpress, but you risk import charges and duty. It takes a while to arrive too and every once in a while they might just not arrive. Amazon solves that problem but the price might be just a tad higher.
Overall, a recommended device with a stable Android build and fast wireless connection.
6. Linster (EstGo, MBox) H96 Pro
[eHere we go with another box that is available under all kinds of brands and variations. Pretty much every marketplace that you go to has a variation of the H96 on display. Whether is a Pro or a non-pro version they are all solid devices if you are willing to put up with Chinese developed and build boxes.
The H96 that is an object of this review comes in a configuration with 3GB RAM and 32GB of storage. There are versions with 8 GB and 16GB storage but I feel that the 8GB is just too small for general use and the price difference between the 16 and the 32 is negligible towards the benefits of a bigger drive. The variations with 2GB RAM are fine but if you are a heavy user I would still prefer the 3 Gigs over the 2 for the slight bump in price.
Let’s see the full specifications of the box including the available ports and the central processor unit. The CPU is the proven Amlogic S912 – fewer performance problems than any other installed in a Chinese TV box and features hardware decoding of 4K and most streams. Here are the most notable specs:
- Eight-Core Processor
- 3GB RAM (2GB Version Available)
- 16GB or 32GB Storage
- 4K @ 60Hz Support – HDMI 2.0
- Gigabit LAN
- Dual Band Wireless AC
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Up To 32GB SD Card Support
As you can see, the specs are on par with the best out there. Capable CPU, plenty of RAM and expandable storage. The most recent software build has been pain-free and as bugless as they can be for Chinese TV boxes. Streaming is fluid, audio is clean and networking can keep up with most high-def content. The AC WiFi is 750 Mbits max theoretical speed and we came pretty close to 200 Mbps as was the case with the T95Z device. Don’t expect those speeds in any environment though – if you put a wall between the router and the TV box the speed will drop significantly, especially if it is a concrete wall.
Kodi runs flawlessly.
It comes preinstalled on some of the older versions but it most often than not you will have to install it yourself if you get your box with Android 7.0 or above. We tested Kodi on the H96 and we encountered no problems whatsoever – most streams were working fine with no issues or tearing.
If you want to stream 4K content you might have to connect the box to a wired network. The 4K with high definition audio with choke the wireless connection and your device will stutter while gasping for bandwidth. The old-fashioned cable fixed that easily.
Overall the H96 PRO is a solid contender for the best Android box. There are plenty of features and expansion ports to make it the centre of your multimedia needs. If you don’t like the original software there are plenty of aftermarket ROMs of you are a savvy user. As always the case with Chinese devices, you can get them cheaper on GearBest or Ali, but paying a bit more to Amazon guarantees you fast delivery, no import charges, and fantastic return policy. I’ll leave the choice to you!
7. M8S II – The Best Budget Android TV Box
You might have noticed that there is no brand attached to M8S II. This is no coincidence – the M8S II is made by so many companies that I lost count already. On Gearbest is sold under Mini and MECOOL, on Amazon is Edal, GooBang and CCTV, on AliExpress is something totally different. The M8S II is basically a ready platform that is rebranded and sold under many different brands. There are several versions of the M8S and the main difference is that some of them come with Amlogic S905X and others packed with S912. We will not cover the S912 versions as they are way too similar to the two units mentioned above. The M8S II is one the best budget Kodi boxes. It can be found on AliExpress and GearBest for less than 25 dollars. It is a bit more on Amazon so I don’t really know if they would be a better bet than the Fire Stick. If you can find them much cheaper than the Fire Stick I’d say go for it but if the price is similar I’d prefer the Fire Stick – it is just better built and supported. With that said, let’s take a look at the M8S II specifications:
- Quad-Core Processor
- 1 GB or 2GB RAM
- 8GB or 16 GB Storage
- Wireless N 2.4GHz
- 4K Support @ 60Hz
- 100 Mbit LAN
- SD Card
Keep in mind that this is a budget unit and it can not really compete with the Beelink and the T95Z. The S905X processor is an updated version of the old S905 with better 4K support and hardware decoding but it is still less powerful than the S912 most modern boxes ship with. The 1GB version can be had really cheap when ordered from China but the 2Gb version is what you should be looking at.1GB is just not enough for modern Android version and the newly sold units of the M8S II come with Android 6.0 installed. Kodi comes pre-installed with the M8S II. It works great but you can not expect any miracles from it. It is severely limited by the 2.4GHz N wireless and the 100Mbit LAN port. It is fine for most 1080p streams but 4K is out of the question with the wireless managing only up to 26-27 MBps. The 100 Mbit LAN is much better but it can not compare to the 1 Gbit connection of the devices above. The software that comes with the device is usually fast and stable, but every seller likes to touch the code a bit here and there so you have to be careful with the sellers. Just do a bit of research before committing. Overall is a very good buy if you don’t set your expectations too high and you find a good deal on the box. It works great with local media and wired connections and the main flaw is the limited wireless connections.
8. Minix Neo U9-H
The Minix Neo U9-H is not the typical Chinese TV Box. It is a well-made machine featuring a very fast processor, fast wireless and a plethora of extension ports and connections.
As you might have noticed the Minix is considerably more expensive than most other devices and we are about to take a look whether the quality justifies the price. It comes with a very good Amlogic S912-H processor which ensures fluent multitasking and quick response. The processor features hardware decoding support for the most used movie streaming formats today.
It is more expensive than the Amazon Fire TV Box with 4K support. Hardware-wise they are very very close but the support of the Fite Box is miles ahead of the Minix one. The downside of the Fire TV is that it doesn’t run a pure android install – it’s an Amazon version of Android and it doesn’t come with Google Play store. Yes, it is possible to flash it with a custom ROM and all, but why bother?
The Minix features everything a box like that should feature – an HDMI 2.0 for proper 4K support, Gigabit network, full hardware acceleration, and good remote control. It has an SD card support so you can upgrade the storage if 16GB is not enough, and it usually isn’t.
The full specs of the Minix U9-H are as follows:
- Octa-Core Processor
- 2Gb RAM
- 16GB Storage
- SD Card Slot
- AC Wireless
- 1 Gbit LAN
- Bluetooth 4.1
As you can see it is par with the best but the major downside of the Minix is the price. Yes, it is a superb unit, it has a great build quality and a very stable firmware. It feels and acts like a premium unit and way better than most Chinese units we have reviewed above. We just can’t justify the price of over 100 dollars that it sells for.
Kodi comes preinstalled as a custom version XBM.
It runs great too – we tested local streaming, Kodi plugin streams even some sports. It runs great and there is plenty of bandwidth when connected to a good WiFi router. When we tested the wireless speed with SpeedTest it came pretty close to 180 Mbps which should be plenty for most streaming media.
The Gigabit LAN is no slouch either and it works great too – it is very easy to connect the box to local NAS devices, local computers running Kodi and more. Fast and easy.
Overall it is an OK buy with high specs but also a very steep price. I am not sure I can justify the price increase over the Amazon Fire TV box. If you can – please, go for it, but my choice would be the Fire TV Box over the Minix most days of the week.
9. Amazon Fire TV – Best For 4K Streaming
The Amazon Fire TV family is currently made of two devices – the Amazon Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick. The latter is a limited version of the Fire TV with a bit lower specs and price. The Amazon Fire TV is a very nice setup for a few reasons and the main one being the superb customer support and return policy of Amazon, especially of their own products. Fire TV is a capable device with a set of very nice and high-end specifications:
- Fast Quad Core Processor
- 2Gb RAM
- 8Gb App Storage
- AC WiFi
You can easily stream any kind of content to your television using the Amazon Fire TV. Whether it is movies, sports, TV shows or funny cat video on YouTube. The Amazon Fire TV box boasts an amazing max resolution – it supports 4K at 60 Hz. Yes, that is 2160p at 60Hz – no blurry picture, no refresh problems at 4K/30Hz like some of the low-end boxes on the market. The Amazon Fire can be easily connected to your television via the HDMI port. After that, you can start streaming videos on your TV by plugging in the AC adaptor and switching it on. Talking about speed, the Amazon Fire TV box is on par with the fastest devices out there. You can increase the storage of the device by adding a TF card of choice – up to 128Gb. If your WiFi signal is weak or you have an older wireless router, you can always use the LAN port to connect the box to the internet via the good ‘ole cable.
If you are a fan of gaming, or if you like to play games in your free time, the Amazon Fire allows you to effortlessly play games like Candy Crush Saga, Angry Bird and much more – all free on the app store. Amazon has a proprietary app store that is based on Google Play but offers deals all the time on free apps, games and more. If you have an Amazon Prime account you can take advantage of lots of free movies, TV shows and music available free for Prime users.
How great is that?
Kodi installation is a breeze on the Amazon TV box. Just download it from the app store (alternatively from Kodi’s website) and you are good to go. You can select all the add-ons from within the Kodi app. You can connect it to your NAS device, external drives and enjoy all the free entertainment you can get your hands on.
The main disadvantage of the TV Box is that it is about to be discontinued by Amazon and replaced with a newer, better version. At least that’s the rumor. Currently, Amazon is not selling any new Fire TV devices but you can grab a bargain from the refurbished section or, alternatively, off Amazon Warehouse.
10. Nvidia Shield TV Pro Server – 500Gb
There isn’t much to say about the Nvidia Shield TV Pro that we didn’t already mention above with the Shield TV box. The main upgrades of the Shield Pro are the added SD card support, massive 500GB storage, IR remote control and Micro-USB port for PC connections. The PRO is based on the old design so it is considerably bigger and bulkier.
Nvidia Shield TV Pro Versus Shield TV
The Shield TV Pro comes with an integrated hard drive so if you are planning to store local content or turn the device into a DVR by using Plex or something similar, the Pro is the obvious choice. However, nothing is stopping you to connect a much cheaper external hard drive to the original Shield and use that for storage. You’ll save a bit of cash too.
The IR remote is nice to have but I’m not sure I’m willing to pay so much for it. The price difference between the Pro and the Non-Pro is close to a hundred dollars in the US. For that kind of money, you can buy a Bluetooth remote and an external hard drive and have some left over for a coffee or two. Hardware and performance wise there is no difference between the two boxes. They both run equally well and have wide support of streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Android TV, Netflix, Roku and more. GeForce Now is available for both again if you are willing to shell out for the subscription.
Kodi TV runs the same on both.
Overall the Nvidia Shield TV Pro is a very nice device with a very steep price tag. I’d go for it if budget is of no issues – it outshines the rest easily with the huge storage and additional services available. But it is expensive and the original Shield TV might be a better choice alas the limited storage and no remote control.
Final Words And The Winner – Nvidia Shield
It features everything that the best Android TV box should feature – very fast AC wireless, enough RAM to cope with demanding content streaming, powerful processor with native hardware decoding support for most playback formats and enough extra services and goodies to make it claim the title. There are some downsides though – storage is not expandable via SD card but it can be expanded with an external hard drive, which, I think, would be a better option.
If you don’t fancy paying the high price for the Shield TV our second choice would be the Amazon Fire TV with 4K.
It offers everything a box should offer and it comes at a very reasonable price for the features it offers. It is a solid box and it is about to be updated very soon. Currently, at the time of writing this review, the Fire TV is out of stock on Amazon but you can snatch a refurbished one at an even nicer price. An alternative to the Fire TV would be the Fire TV stick but it is a bit limited with its 1GB RAM and small storage. If you are on a budget the Firestick is a very good choice though.
Go for any of the Chinese devices if you feel adventurous. Most of them can be found for a very very good price on GearBest and AliExpress, other sites too. Every one of them has a shortcoming and it is always a good idea to research a bit before buying.
The Beelink GT1 is probably the best Chinese Android Kodi box. Yes, I agree that the GT1 had enough issues at lunch to discredit it from being considered even a decent box. Despite the fast hardware, good storage and plenty of memory the Beelink just didn’t perform well enough to justify the big price tag. All these issues are fixed now by various and consistent firmware updates. There were issues with wireless and networking in the past but it is all good now. I have personally tested more than a few Beelinks in the recent weeks and they are my go-to recommendation when people are searching for Chinese made TV boxes for Kodi.
Overall all of the devices listed above are true and tested performers with very few issues and quirks. I would suggest buying from Amazon to guarantee quick delivery and support in case anything happens to the product. None of the devices above require any modifications or programming to install Kodi so it should be a breeze connecting them to the internet and enjoy the show.
If you think a device deserves a spot on the list please let me know in the comments below and I’ll take a look at it. Alternatively, you can head out to the home page of TabbloidX and check out the rest of our reviews and buyer’s guide.